Tucson bicycle dangers and UA bike safety campaign

If you are looking for thrills, chills and a regularly risking your life, you need not go skydiving or careening down Niagara Falls in a barrel.

Tucson cyclist at downtown bike fair/Ryn Gargulinski

Tucson cyclist at downtown bike fair/Ryn Gargulinski

You can just bicycle around Tucson.

Yes, Tucson offers some of the finest weather, landscapes and miles of bike paths to enjoy. But it also offers some of the most oblivious motorists who often don’t seem to give a hoot about bicyclists.

Not all bicyclists are safe riders, either. I’ve seen them dart across traffic, hog car lanes and cruise through stop signs and lights with a sense of entitlement that makes kings and queens look meek.

My Day of the Dead blog noted two bicycle fatalities in the past few months, one in the Tucson police’s and the other in Pima County sheriff’s jurisdiction.

Alexander Nunez, 49, was killed July 2 after he was hit by a van on East 22nd Street near South Sixth Avenue, police reported.

Nunez was riding north across 22nd Street, just east of South Sixth Avenue, when he rode into the path of an oncoming van, according to witnesses and roadway evidence, Officer Linda Galindo said.

Jerome David Featherman, 84, was killed Sept. 3 after his bicycle was struck by a sedan that drove into the bike lane along Desert Bell Drive in Green Valley, according to the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.

Featherman, who was wearing both a helmet and reflective vest, was hit from behind by a southbound sedan driven by David Armstrong, 76.

Featherman died after being taken to the hospital.

Tucson police on bike patrol at downtown bike fair/Ryn Gargulinski

Tucson police on bike patrol at downtown bike fair/Ryn Gargulinski

Other Tucson police statistics report two fatal bicycle versus car incidents this year, one with a motorist who left the scene; 150 bicycle traffic injuries, 46 with motorists who left the scene; 47 bicycle property damage incidents and 26 “other” bicycle accidents.

Maybe the “other” are bicyclists who rode into garbage cans or shopping carts left all over town.

Since police statistics lag about a month behind, putting us in early August, we can do some math and deduct that approximately 21 bicyclists are injured each month.

And those are just police statistics.

I am in no way trying to discourage bicycling in Tucson. But I am also in no way soon going to pump up the tires of my own bicycle that’s been sitting largely unused since I moved to town nearly three years ago.

I felt safer biking through the clogged and manic streets of New York City, which I did often, than I did once biking one mile in Tucson to the nearby Blockbuster.

UA Bicycle Safety and Education Campaign

The University of Arizona is a hotspot for bicyclists, with more than 10,000 bicyclists on the UA campus any given weekday, according to UAPD spokesman Sgt. Juan Alvarez.

The UAPD and campus Parking and Transportation Services have teamed up to promote the Bicycle Safety and Education Campaign. The campaign’s goal is to educate folks on bicycle traffic laws and give you some tips on keeping your bike safe against thieves.

The campaign kicks off this week, with the UAPD and Parking and Transportation personnel stationed at the following locations:

Wednesday, Sept. 16 – 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (University/Cherry)
Tuesday, Sept. 22 – 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (University/Cherry)
Wednesday, Sept. 23 – 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (Highland/Fourth)
Thursday, Oct. 1 – 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (Olive/Second)

Campaign includes free bicycle registration at the sites and U-Locks for sale for $15, cash or check only, please.


Cutest bicycling couple at downtown bike fair/Ryn Gargulinski

Cutest bicycling couple at downtown bike fair/Ryn Gargulinski

What do you think?

Do you ever bicycle around town? Does it seem safe and friendly?

Have you ever had a bicycle crash, smash-up or been hit by a car?

Have you ever hit a bicyclist while driving your car?

Are you one of those 46 meanies who left the scene? If so, please leave your name, address and phone number in comments below.


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at ryngargulinski.com.
This entry was posted in danger, death, life, Police/fire/law, sports and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Tucson bicycle dangers and UA bike safety campaign

  1. radmax says:

    Mornin’ Rynski! My pals and I used to ride everywhere in this burg on a 10 speed.Could not imagine trying it these days. Pretty doggone hairy out there in an automobile, let alone a bike. Allot of today’s bike riders fail to obey the traffic laws, which pertain to them same as a car. It’s refreshing to see them use a hand turn signal, some drivers could also start trying this. And please, if you are going to use the crossing light, don’t ride your bike across. I believe it used to be against the law to do this. PS-need those tires pumped up Rynski? 🙂

  2. Rynski says:

    mornin’ radmax! agree it’s a madhouse maze of scary streets for cars and bikes alike. also dig the hand signals but i wonder how many people actually know what they mean? I’ve also been thrown off by motorists who hang their arms out the window in hand signal fashion when all they’re doing is hanging their arms out the window. i’ll prob. pass on the bike tire pump offer, but i think one of my car tires is low…

    • radmax says:

      Rynski!…Rynmobiles get flats? 🙂  PS-I meant for drivers to use turn signals period! Not the hand type. Always nice to know someones intentions…

  3. azmouse says:

    My 21 year old son rides his bike everywhere. He’ll ride from our area (Golf links and Camino Seco) to Tucson Mall or even Marana to visit his buddies. He’s been a daily bike rider since middle school.
    He’s been hit a bunch of times!
    The worst was when he was about a freshman in high school. He was on his way to school, and a young guy hit him when Wesley was walking his bike through the crosswalk. The police were called and he was taken to the hospital. (one of those great phone calls every parent looks forward to)
    A few days later the guy who hit him called me, said he was glad my son was okay, but he really wanted to ‘work something out’ with me because my son’s body caused damage to his car. Once he found out I was a widowed hairstylist he backed off. Guess I can’t blame the guy for trying…LOL

    • radmax says:

      Hi az. What a jerk! Hits a kid in a crosswalk, then wants compensation? A knuckle sandwich sounds like fair compensation…

    • Rynski says:

      wow-ee – what a total idyit! you should have told him you’d fix up his car just fine…with a hammer (haha).
      glad wesley got through that and other mishaps OK – and hope he stays safe.

      • azmouse says:

        The guy was probably hoping I was a plastic surgeon or something.
        Hi Max!
        I save my knuckle sandwiches for people who are mean to animals. lol I like the contact.
        For stingy, crazy young guys, I like to throw big monkey wrenches…like the guy I beaned in the head when he came in my backyard to try and steal my son’s bike.

        Hi Ryn,
        Wesley’s had better luck lately. He hasn’t been hit in, ohhh..a couple months now. lol

      • Rynski says:

        haha! i can just picture a guy getting beaned in the head with a monkey wrench. and glad to hear wesley’s odds for safe biking are increasing!

      • azmouse says:

        Thanks Ryn…I’m sure you’re glad to hear about Wesley, after all, he could be your future ‘boy-toy’.

        Okay, okay, I’m done teasing you about it now. lol

  4. Mike M says:

    Here are the actual rules of the road for bikes and cars.
    They may not be what you think they are !
    I have been commuting to work on a bike for 25 years in Tucson. Pick your routes for safety. There are good and bad drivers and cyclists.

    • Rynski says:

      Hi Mike M,
      Thanks for the useful link – it even has a page explaining hand signals! So glad you have found a safe way to commute in Tucson. I do miss my bicycle, esp. because it has a hippo horn. I used to ride it everywhere (mainly because I didn’t have a car in NYC).
      Picking a safe route – without a lot of traffic – is def. a grand idea.

      • Mike M says:

        Just an idea. It would great to have an article in the paper telling folks about the Pima Bike Program and the link I sent for the “actual rules” of the road. I have also been driving for 40 years.I can not count the number of time I have had conversations(some heated) with drivers and cyclists and they were completely wrong about the bike traffic laws. Education is a great idea. Just a thought. (I still pick my routes for safety, not time and I ride defensively). Later

      • Rynski says:

        i like it! think we should have ryn illustrations with the rules. will put it in my ‘to do’ pile…thanks!

    • koreyk says:

      This is vital information for every cyclist and motorist.  Unfortunately, the PDF design sucks big green ones.  The headers on each page read horizontally (i.e., normally), while the body is vertical.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t have enough patience (or aspirin) to keep turning my head sideways to read the text.  I guess I need to mount a search for a PDF reader that has a page rotation function, as this is far from the first document that I have seen utilizing this moronic graphic design.

      End venting.

  5. Karen Nelson says:

    Hmmm… I will definitely check out that website. I have lived in Tucson for about 13 years and have done  a lot of bike riding.  Luckily, I have never been hit, nor has anyone I have been riding with! Knock on wood! I try to assume that people are not watching out for me and that I must err on the side of caution. And so I do. But that is not foolproof! I used to ride a lot in San Diego when I lived there as well and I don’t find either place better or worse. There are always those drivers that feel we cyclists don’t belong on the road. Such is life!

  6. Rynski says:

    Just received an e-mail from Tucson Police Dept. saying the midtown motor division has been in the area of Treat and Third avenues doing enforcement on traffic violations.
    “Most of the violators are bicyclist. The motors along with the midtown bike sergeant would like the public to know the safety concerns with all motorists and bicyclists not following the motor vehicle laws as well letting them know about the enforcement,” wrote Sgt. Diana Lopez in the e-mail.
    Consider yourself in the know about the enforcement.

    • Mike M says:

      The home page for Pima Bicycle & Pedestrian Program.
      They give free bike safety classes. You get a free helmet, water bottle and other swag. I have attended several of these when I was cycling coach for Team in Training. They are great. I learned stuff, even after cycling the mean streets of Tucson and many othe rparts of the country for 25 years. Matt Zoll runs the program. I used to do the infamous UA shooout and raced with him in the 90’s. later.

  7. Jennatoolz says:

    Wow, very cool thing to write about today Ryn! I VERY recently bought a bicycle (last Fri to be exact!) and I plan on riding it at least a few times a week. My boyfriend and I took a lil ride yesterday evening, and it’s quite unnerving to be riding out along Grant or Speedway where I live. While on our bicycle adventure, my boyfriend was telling me that he has been hit at least 5 times while riding his bike on the wonderful streets of Tucson. Ouch!

    So far, I like to stick within the neighborhood, but even then I worry that a car will hit me. I’m glad Mike M posted that link, because now I’ll be able to read up on the laws and make sure that I’m following them correctly. At least then I’ll be able to feel much safer while I’m out riding around on my brand new bike! Can’t be putting any scratches on it now…or better yet, can’t be putting any scratches on ME! =P

  8. G says:

    Wow, with a biased phrase like “cyclists hogging the lane”, I’m surprised at the teremity of the comments.  If the lane is too narrow to share, the lane is first come, first serve; cyclists struck from behind are much less common than the what seems to be 50% reported in this “article”.

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